Ontario Cracking Down on Puppy Mills

New legislation will help ensure safe and ethical treatment of dogs

Today, the Ontario government introduced legislation to help stop unethical dog breeding operations, often known as puppy mills. The Preventing Unethical Puppy Sales Act (PUPS Act) if passed, will amend the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act (PAWS Act) to stop harmful dog breeding practices, impose penalties, and make sure that dogs across Ontario receive the care they deserve.

“Ontario currently has the strongest penalties for animal welfare violations in the country and we will not stop until dogs, and other animals across the province, have a comprehensive and robust system to ensure their safety,” said Solicitor General Michael Kerzner. “The Preventing Unethical Puppy Sales Act will help to ensure Ontario remains a leader in animal welfare by being the first province in the country to introduce minimum penalties specific to puppy mills.”

The changes proposed in the PUPS Act will prohibit the harmful dog-breeding practices most often associated with puppy mills and the reckless sale of dogs, such as:

  • Breeding a female dog more than three times in a two-year period, or breeding more than two litters from a female dog’s consecutive heat cycles
  • Breeding a female dog that is less than a year old
  • Failing to keep a dog with a contagious disease away from other dogs or animals
  • Failing to ensure a dog’s environment is sanitary and free from accumulation of waste
  • Separating a puppy from its mother before the age of eight weeks

Under the new legislation, the province will introduce minimum penalties of $10,000 for bad actors operating a puppy mill and $25,000 if these violations result in the death of a dog. Changes will also allow the province to help develop regulations to set conditions that must be met when selling or transferring a dog and establish regulations for record-keeping.

To keep animals across the province safe, Ontario also intends to consult on regulations relating to medically unnecessary procedures for dogs and cats, such as declawing, tail docking, ear cropping, and debarking, and establish a framework for administrative monetary penalties under the PAWS Act.

Cruelty to any animal is not tolerated in Ontario. If an animal is in distress or being abused, call 1-833-9-ANIMAL (264625).

Quick Facts

  • The term “puppy mill” is used to describe a dog breeder that engages in poor breeding practices such as the overbreeding of dogs in substandard conditions.
  • Due to the inferior quality of care, puppies sold by puppy mills can have numerous health conditions such as parvovirus and behavioural issues.
  • The PAWS Act came into effect January 1, 2020, making Ontario the first jurisdiction in Canada to implement a full provincial animal welfare enforcement system to enhance animal safety.


“This government has always led the way when it comes to protecting animal rights. And under the leadership of Premier Ford, we are now the first province in the country to put a leash on puppy mills that treat dogs as litter-churning machines. The PUPS Act addresses an important policy issue spotlighted by my first Private Members’ Bill – Protecting Our Pets Act. This legislation shows that as a team we are committed to creating a more compassionate world for companion animals.”

– Christine Hogarth
MPP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore

“The Canadian Kennel Club supports well-crafted legislation that is fair, non-discriminatory, and enforceable to target producers of unhealthy puppies, without unduly burdening responsible breeders. We look forward to working with the government to address the puppy mill issue and ensure that the new legislation will consider the interests of responsible breeders who prioritize the health and wellbeing of dogs.”

– Jeff Cornett
Executive Director, Canadian Kennel Club

“This legislation is a welcome and important step towards protecting dogs from unethical breeders and addressing the issue of puppy mills throughout our province. The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society looks forward to continuing to work with the Solicitor General to further develop the detailed regulations that will provide the greatest protection possible for both dogs and the public.”

– Doug Brooks
President & CEO, Ontario SPCA and Humane Society

Additional Resources

To learn more about animal welfare in Ontario, visit ontario.ca/animalwelfare.